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Will agencies learn to share?

April 15, 2008

Ad age wonders this in a post called: “Agencies Using Creativity to Save Themselves”.

Here’s a quote from Publicis Groupe CEO Maurice Levy:

“The new model of the agency will work like an eco-system. Everything has to fit and contribute ‘rationally’: the understanding and knowledge of the consumer, how he/she interacts with society, the understanding of the product, the brand, the competition, the ‘marketing-mix,’ media and non-media channels, and above all the idea.”

The thing is, this will mean that creative departments will have to open up to the possibility that the next idea might not start and end with TV. Yes, TV is still the #1 place to get out a message if you’re a huge brand. Even though McDonald’s launched an A.R.G. this spring, they will continue to pay a huge amount of money for TV spots.

But still. It’s nice to see that there’s a lot of talk. The only thing is this: alongside the idea that ideas are organic and can come from anywhere doesn’t seem to fit the way an agency is structured. We have media, PA, PR, interactive, creative, account services, studio, and promotion departments in the agency I work in. And while we’re really collaborative, we still have titles. And departments. And when you start there, it’s hard to have an ‘eco-system’.

In the ad age article, Mr. Levy agrees that the traditional model of ad agencies coming up with ads and taglines is “…close to broken. That’s as it should be. The model is no longer valid, no longer relevant.”

So what is the new model? Is it simply that a client comes to the agency with a budget and says: get the message out. If that’s the case, there should be a lot of ‘why’ questions asked from both the media, the creative and the account ser4vices department. Why TV. Why Facebook? Why whatever media is picked.

So who comes to that meeting?

I know at our agency, we could get a lot of people in a virtual room to start conversations internally. I wonder how many clients would be interested in starting like that.

The simple fact is, we marketers can do anything. McDonald’s launched an A.R.G. Can you even picture the way in which the assignment was presented? Can you picture the skill-set of the team that was brought to the table the first time?

Agencies will move slowly and work out the kinks in creating things that accomplish the new goals of these new times. Getting people to share. That’s more and more what it’s about. The questions that will continue to pop up as this decade closes is, are traditional agencies the places where it will happen?

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